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Frequently Asked Questions: Heating and Cooling

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

There are many variables regarding furnace filters.  For example: What type of furnace filter are you using?  Do you run your fan continuously?  Do you have shedding pets?  Have you had any renovations or construction done lately?  Since the filter is the best protection for your furnace, our advice is to buy a good filter, and check it regularly.

Two-stage heating means the furnace has two levels of heat output:  high for cold winter days, and low for milder days.  Since the low setting is adequate to meet household-heating demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and provides more even heat distribution.

There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment.  Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER.  The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit.

Your furnace’s AFUE, Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, percentage tells you how much energy is being converted to heat.  For example, an AFUE of 90 means 90 percent of the fuel is being used to warm your home, while the other 10 percent escapes as exhaust with the combustion gases.

If you are using your fireplace quite regularly in the winter months, you should have it serviced each year. At this time the technician will clean the burners, make sure logs are where they should be, check venting and clean the glass. All of these steps will ensure a warm and safe winter.

“Variable speed” refers to the fan motor inside the air handler:  the indoor part of an air conditioner that moves cooled or heated air throughout the ductwork of your home.  An air handler is usually a furnace or a blower coil.  Unlike conventional single-speed motors, a variable speed motor runs at a wide range of speeds to precisely control the air throughout your home.

The best method of detection is to use a carbon monoxide detector in your home.  A carbon monoxide detector is a device very similar to a smoke alarm.  It monitors the air for carbon monoxide and sounds an alarm if a specific level is detected.  Ideally, you should have one detector adjacent to every living area in your home.  Carbon monoxide detectors are most effective when used in combination with preventive maintenance.

Electronic air cleaners can greatly improve home air quality and comfort levels. If you suffer from allergies or have pets, they’re a must. Some electronic air cleaners can remove dust particles and pollen as small as .10 micron. Horizon Services offers a variety of air filtration devices.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend a household humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.

All systems and units are different.  Here are some rough lifespan guidelines to help you decide whether fixing or replacing is the right decision:

  • Average Lifetime of an Air Conditioner: 12 – 15 years
  • Average Lifetime of a Furnace: 15 – 20 years
  • Average Lifetime of a Boiler: 15 – 20 years


As a general rule, you will want an air conditioner that is ideally sized for your home so that it is not running over capacity or sitting idle for too long. A quick method you can use to estimate the ideal size is to take your square footage and divide it by 400. Typically, the average home needs 1 ton for every 400 sq ft of living space that will be cooled. So, if your home is 1,200 sq ft, you will require a 3 ton air conditioner.

HVAC systems are complicated networks of machinery that should be serviced by a certified professional.  However, if your HVAC system seems to be malfunctioning, you can try a few basic steps, which may correct your problem, prior to calling an HVAC service professional.  If you do not feel comfortable performing these tasks, do not hesitate to call us at 905-388-3888:

  • Make sure your circuit breakers are in the ON position
  • Make sure your filters are clean
  • Open supply and return vents and make sure they are unobstructed
  • Check the settings on your thermostat
  • Make sure the system switch is on the appropriate COOL or HEAT setting


A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year round to keep you comfortable. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, the process reverses: the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home. Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, then an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home.

There have been many opinions on covering outside condensers leaving customers thoroughly confused. When you think about the use of the cover and what happens in the winter, varying temperatures and hot sun in the winter could cause condensation within the cover and the appliance. This condensation does cause problems with the “fins” in the condensing unit. A simple piece of plywood over the top of the unit will prevent ice buildup on the top of the unit, and will allow the “fins” to breath within the condensing unit thus not restricting the air circulation.

Heating and cooling equipment should be serviced at least once a year. An ideal situation is to have the heating system checked in early fall and the air conditioning checked in the spring. Call today at 905-388-3333 to book a service appointment!